I’m happy to announce that in cooperation with Gourmet Ramen Club, the availability of a new box of noodles! This box has a fiery mix of the hottest of the hot – the spiciest instant noodles in the world! So have a look at the video and get yours today!
Unboxing Time: The Ramen Rater Spicy Pack By Gourmet Ramen Club – United States
There’s some seriously spicy varieties in this pack – and it’s a pretty darn good deal. A lot of these varieties would require you to buy 4 or 5 packs at a time. We’ve gotten rid of that kind of commitments – you get single packs! Not only that , the shipping is included! Finally, you get a card with garnish and recipe tips! All this for $25 – a pretty good deal if you ask me! Also, use coupon code at checkout – HOTLIKEFIRE to get an extra buck off the price! So, what are you waiting for? Feel the burn!
Well, I thought I was out of KOKA varieties to review and only had a couple duplicates but nope – nada – still got more! See, there are KOKA Signature and KOKA Delight which both look about the same and often have the same flavors. What’s the difference? Well, KOKA Delight is baked noodles – not fried. So I’ve still got a few varieties left. This one is a black pepper flavor noodle – without broth. Black pepper is an interesting thing – very historic as well. Let’s see if I can find something from Wikipedia –
Pepper (both long and black) was known in Greece at least as early as the 4th century BCE, though it was probably an uncommon and expensive item that only the very rich could afford.
A Roman era trade route from India to Italy
By the time of the early Roman Empire, especially after Rome’s conquest of Egypt in 30 BCE, open-ocean crossing of the Arabian Sea direct to southern India‘s Malabar Coast was near routine. Details of this trading across the Indian Ocean have been passed down in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. According to the Roman geographer Strabo, the early Empire sent a fleet of around 120 ships on an annual one-year trip to China, Southeast Asia, India and back. The fleet timed its travel across the Arabian Sea to take advantage of the predictable monsoon winds. Returning from India, the ships travelled up the Red Sea, from where the cargo was carried overland or via the Nile-Red Sea canal to the Nile River, barged to Alexandria, and shipped from there to Italy and Rome. The rough geographical outlines of this same trade route would dominate the pepper trade into Europe for a millennium and a half to come.
Pepper was so valuable that it was often used as collateral or even currency. In the Dutch language, “pepper expensive” (peperduur) is an expression for something very expensive. The taste for pepper (or the appreciation of its monetary value) was passed on to those who would see Rome fall. Alaric the Visigoth included 3,000 pounds of pepper as part of the ransom he demanded from Rome when he besieged the city in 5th century. After the fall of Rome, others took over the middle legs of the spice trade, first the Persians and then the Arabs; Innes Miller cites the account of Cosmas Indicopleustes, who travelled east to India, as proof that “pepper was still being exported from India in the sixth century”. By the end of the Early Middle Ages, the central portions of the spice trade were firmly under Islamic control. Once into the Mediterranean, the trade was largely monopolized by Italian powers, especially Venice and Genoa. The rise of these city-states was funded in large part by the spice trade.
It is commonly believed that during the Middle Ages, pepper was used to conceal the taste of partially rotten meat. There is no evidence to support this claim, and historians view it as highly unlikely: in the Middle Ages, pepper was a luxury item, affordable only to the wealthy, who certainly had unspoiled meat available as well. In addition, people of the time certainly knew that eating spoiled food would make them sick. Similarly, the belief that pepper was widely used as a preservative is questionable: it is true that piperine, the compound that gives pepper its spiciness, has some antimicrobial properties, but at the concentrations present when pepper is used as a spice, the effect is small. Salt is a much more effective preservative, and salt-cured meatswere common fare, especially in winter. However, pepper and other spices certainly played a role in improving the taste of long-preserved meats.
I always thought it was mayonnaise that was used to cover the taste of rotted meat… Well, you learn something new every day – even if it isn’t correct. Let’s look within!
KOKA Signature Black Pepper Fried Noodles – Singapore
Here’s the back of the package (click to enlarge). Contains fish. To prepare, add noodle block to 400ml boiling water and cook 2 minutes. Drain. Add in sachet contents and combine. Finally, stir and enjoy!
The noodle block.
A dual sachet.
A peppery powder.
Finished (click to enlarge). Added Dodo fish balls, coriander, fried onion from Waroeng Jajanan, and Salad Cosmo organic mung bean sprouts. The noodles came out as expected – nice gauge and chew and good for a dry instant noodle dish. The flavor was a nice black pepper one – not too strong that it’s unbearable – just right in this one. It coats everything but isn’t soupy at all. 4.0 out of 5.0 stars. EAN bar code 8888056820016.
Miles immediately wants to try these (click to enlarge)! There are light ones and dark ones in this bag – the light are a kind of honey-cinnamon taste while the dark have a nice cocoa flavor. He approves!
This is the new Buldak Bokkeummyun Mala flavor. Mala is a sauce full of Sichuan pepper flavor (click to enlarge). I’m going to give them a try later today and you can see on my YouTube channel! Here’s what they had to say about it:
MALA BULDAK BOKKEUMMYEON (HOT CHICKEN FLAVOR RAMEN MALA)
This is a differentiated ‘Mala(numbing and spicy)’ flavor of BULDAK BOKKEUMMYEON(HOT CHICKEN FLAVOR RAMEN).
It features a spicy numbing stir-fry noodle with Chinese ‘Mala’ sauce.
It’s a combination of numbing spicy taste and the original flavor of Hot Chicken.
This one has mayonnaise (click to enlarge)! Here’s a little about it from them –
2. Wasa-Mayo Ramen
This is a stir-fried noodles with original mayonnaise and soybean sauce.
It features a friendly and cute package with a new character.
You can taste a harmonious flavor of Wasabi and Mayonnaise.
It’s a new concept of stir-fired noodle with three different sauces.
Enjoy our premium stir fired noodles!
HOW TO COOK Wasa-Mayo Ramen
1. Pour the boiling water up to the inner line and cover lid for 4 minutes.
2. Drain all the water and put in the liquid sauces.
3. Stir well and serve.
Here are couple they’ve sent before (click to enlarge) – you’ll see these in upcoming reviews soon. This is the Song Song Kimchi Ramen – kind of like a Buldask Bokkeummyun but with the focus on kimchi rather than fiery heat – although it is definitely spicy.
Finally, we have Samyang Ramen Bokki (click to enlarge). If you’re not familiar, tteokbokki (also spelled topokki and a lot of other ways) are short rice tubes that are chewy and usually covered with a deep red spicy and sweet sauce along with fishcake, egg and other things. This is basically instant ramyun with the sauce. I’ve really liked ramen bokki in the past from South Korea so got high hopes for this one. Big Thanks for everything to Amelia from Samyang Foods!
So today it’s the fifth annual The Ramen Rater’s Bottom Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time. On my other lists, I exclude varieties that no longer are on the market. On this list, everything’s fair game for the bottom ten. As I say in the video presentation, if you like some of these, there’s nothing wrong with you – I just find these detestable personally. These are my least favorite varieties of the over 2400 varieties posted to date. Without gurther ado, the bottom ten.
The Ramen Rater’s Bottom Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2017 Edition
#10: Roland Ramen Japanese Style Quick-Cooking Alimentary Paste With Chicken Artificially Flavored Soup Base – United States
Honestly, I expected this to be a kind of ‘run-of-the-mill’ variety. I review based on the base product as well as the provided cooking directions. Well, they call for 3 cups of water and they’re violently bland. In the nutrition facts, they mention that this pack contains 3 servings! I’m guessing this is so they can say the sodium level is low? I’m unsure. What I’m sure of is that I really disliked these. Original review
The sweet potato thread was alright, but very gloppy. The flavor was kind of brutal; indeed, too strong for me. I think the soup direction might have been better. What’s more, the powder sachet contents didn’t work well as the peas didn’t hydrate whatsoever. Original review
#8 – Maruchan Spicy Tomato Salsa Ramen – Japan
The noodles hydrated very nicely and have a standard flatness and thin character. The flavor was unfortunately something of a departure. It was a kind of spicy and putrid tomato melange – like homemade salsa left out overnight from binge drinking with a crew of chainsmokers – which just tastes like pure trainwreck. The bits of potato were interesting and hydrated well enough though – kind of liked that they had potato skins on. But yeah – this was just a fusion that should come undone. Original review
The noodles were very ho-hum. While they hydrated well, they seemed like they just didn’t belong in the ‘food’ group; spongy and riddled with sadness. As for chicken flavor, that was definitely absent. I was really happy about the vegetables, but they were mushy. Original review
#6 – Master Kong Artificial Abalone Crab Flavor Instant Noodle – China
The noodles were alright – plentiful too. Nothing to write home about. What is to write home about is the flavor. Write a warning letter home! I mean this was just plain funky; seemed initially like a crab stick kind of scent and essence but it just turned into this not food kind of taste that I just couldn’t stomach whatsoever. Couldn’t pour this down the drain fast enough. Original review
#5 – Koyo Reduced Sodium Garlic & Pepper Ramen – United States
The noodles are thick – more like ramyun. They have an alright chew; although they seem almost doughy- and not Hakata style ramen noodle doughy. The broth does taste of garlic and pepper, but it’s so very bland. It really is like you could boil some pepper and a clove of garlic and achieve the same results. Not at all to my liking. Original review
#4 – Urban Noodle Authentic Street Food Black Bean – United Kingdom
The noodles in this one were flat instead of round. They came out very nicely. The flavoring however was just strange. I expected maybe something of a Korean-Chinese fusion dish, but those are hearty and rich and not savory and sweet. In fact, this one was a little too sweet for me. The thinly sliced bamboo shoots don’t work for me either; leaving them whole would be nicer I think. What’s more, it has a kind of chemically aftertaste; like chlorine or soap. Original review
#3 – One Dish Asia Japanese Ramen Noodle – United States
This one comes with a fresh noodle pouch. They didn’t have a very fresh texture; more mushy. The bamboo shoots (which more resembled overcooked carrot and I had to consult the ingredients to figure what they were) were mushy as well. The broth had an acidic and a flavor reminiscent of the teriyaki flavor I’ve encountered in bad teriyaki instant flavors. A hot mess. Original review here
#2 – Baijia Single Noble Black Bone Chicken Flavor Instant Sweet Potato Noodles – China
I was told by a guy from the company that this indeed was believed to be medicinal and helpful to women having their ‘time of the month.’ I’m also been told by a reader that people generally don’t like black bone chicken soup even in China. Very slimy sweet potato noodles, thick, greasy broth and horrid veggies that didn’t hydrate well was just a flavor, texture, and complete food hole nightmare for me. This was just horrible stuff that I couldn’t stand. Original review
#1 – Dr. McDougall’s Vegan Pad Thai Noodle Soup – United States
Wow – where do it begin. Well, first off when one in the United States thinks of Pad Thai, they think of what they might find at a domestic Thai restaurant. Okay so the rice noodles came out nicely – short, flat and broad and well hydrated. Now for the broth. Thin. Nothing like pad thai. Has a little lime taste and a kind of herbed taste. The floating bits of tofu are a lot like the marshmallows you get in the hot chocolate that comes with marshmallows. This is as far from pad thai as I can even express in words. It’s like someone gave a broken description of pad thai to someone who has short term memory problems and no taste buds a week prior and told them to make it. I kind of feel personally violated and offended. A new #1 on the Bottom Ten. Original review
This is one I brought back with me from Taiwan! Happy Cook is a brand that one of the factories in Taichung makes.
Hanging out and taking tea after touring the factory with the guys from Hung Guang. noodle company! I put the video I made while touring the factory at the bottom of the post so check it out! Let’s give the finished product a try!
Happy Cook Sichuan Spicy Flavor – Taiwan
Here’s the back of the package (click to enlarge). Looks to be meat free but check for yourself. To prepare, add noodles to a pot of boiling water and cook for 5-6 minutes. Drain. Add in sachet contents. Stir and enjoy!
The noodle block.
The first of two sauce sachets.
Has a soy scent.
The second sachet – oil this time.
Finished (click to enlarge). Added Chinese sausage and sweet onion. The noodles are very wide and thin with an excellent chew – light and giving. The sauce is the fiery breath of Mala, whose Sichuan pepper heat means business. I like how the peppery oil has a kind of pinelike note to it – very good! 5.0 out of 5.0 stars. EAN bar code 4717904326025.
A lot of people these days are giving up meat and switching to the Vegan lifestyle. So, what’s the difference between Vegetarian and Vegan? It seems like there are many different ‘flavors’ of Vegetarianism. For example, I have a friend who claims to be vegetarian, however he eats bacon, eggs and Jack In The Box fast food tacos. Here’s what wikipedia has to say about Veganism:
Veganism is both the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. A follower of either the diet or the philosophy is known as a vegan (pronounced vee-gən).
Distinctions are sometimes made between several categories of veganism. Dietary vegans refrain from ingesting animal products. This means avoiding not only meat but also egg and dairy products and other animal-derived foodstuffs.[n 1] Some dietary vegans choose to wear clothing that includes animal products (for example, leather or wool). The term ethical vegan is often applied to those who extend the philosophy beyond diet into other areas of their lives. This philosophy means opposing the use of animal products for any purpose.[n 2]Environmental veganism refers to avoiding animal products on the premise that harvesting or industrial farming of animals is environmentally damaging and unsustainable.
The term vegan was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson when he co-founded the Vegan Society in England. At first this meant “non-dairy vegetarian” and later “the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals”. Interest in veganism increased in the 2010s; more vegan shops opened, and vegan options became increasingly available in more supermarkets and restaurants in many countries.
Vegan diets tend to be higher in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, and phytochemicals, and lower in dietary energy, saturated fat, cholesterol, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12.[n 3] Well-planned vegan diets can reduce the risk of some types of chronic disease including heart disease. Vegan diets are regarded as appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, and Dietitians of Canada. Because uncontaminated plant foods do not provide vitamin B12 (which is produced by microorganisms such as bacteria), researchers agree that vegans should eat B12-fortified foods or take a supplement.[n 4]
I always thought that Veganism just was about food, but apparently it can reach into other aspects of life as well. Let’s take a look at this spicy Vegan spicy chilli and sesame variety from Mom’s Dry Noodle.
Mom’s Dry Noodle Vegan Chilli With Sesame Sauce – Taiwan
Here’s the back of the package (click to enlarge). The manufacturer has told me that this is Vegan friendly. To prepare, first add noodle block to a pot of water and boil for 5 1/2 minutes. Then drain. Add in sachet contents. Finally, stir and enjoy!
One of four servings in the package.
The noodle block.
A liquid sachet.
Looks like soy sauce.
A tan colored liquid in a sachet.
Definitely the sesame saucer.
Finally, we have an oil sachet.
A spicy chilli oil.
Finished (click to enlarge). Added Salad Cosmo mung bean sprouts, sliced shallot and garlic and spiralized cucumber. The noodles are great – nice chew and good quantity. The flavor is very strong – that nice kind of peanutty sesame sauce and then a really good spicy bite from Sichuan pepper oil. Ties together nicely. 5.0 out of 5.0 stars. EAN bar code 4717011150018.
So today we kick off Meet The Manufacturer with a unique variety – pepper and sesame sauce. First, this is black pepper, not hot chill. Second, sesame sauce is completely different from sesame oil. Sesame sauce has a more peanut butter kind of texture and flavor whereas sesame oil has that strong sesame scent and saltiness. Let’s dig into this one and get things started!
Mom’s Dry Noodle Pepper & Sesame Sauce – Taiwan
Here’s the back of the package (click to enlarge). The manufacturer has assured me it is Vegan friendly. To prepare, first add noodle block to a pot of water and boil for 5 1/2 minutes. Then drain. Add in sachet contents. Finally, stir and enjoy!
The package contains 4 servings like this.
The noodle block.
A dry sachet.
Pepper! Made me sneeze!
The first of three liquid sachets.
Smells like a soy sauce.
The second liquid sachet.
Has a kind of peanut scent to it.
An oil sachet.
A deep orange colored oil.
Finished (click to enlarge). Added Salad Cosmo mung bean sprouts, shredded carrot and Chinese yam. The noodles came out very well – good chew and gauge. I really liked how the sesame and pepper played off of eachother; worked very well. 4.25 out of 5.0 stars. EAN bar code 4717011150186.
I visited Mom’s Dry Noodle back in November, 2016. We traveled south to Tainan to visit a noodle factory – don’t worry, I won’t quit my day job when it comes to folding them, but flipping – that I can do!
Here’s another one sent to me by Javier from Box From Japan. Box From Japan has subscriptions for all sorts of neat Japanese things. I regret to say that I was informed that they won’t be taking subscriptions for their ramen boxes for now – hopefully that will start again soon. He mentioned that you can purchase instant noodles from them here. Here’s what he had to say about this particular variety:
The Noodles: Thick, filling, deep fried noodles. The surface of the noodles glistens and they have a palatable, plump yet rm texture. The Soup: A pitch black soy sauce flavored soup. It is a recreation of the merits of Toyama Black, with savory flavors, such as fish sauce and chicken, combined with soy sauce and given a punch with black pepper. We have evolved the flavor by adding an original arrangement of sprinkled spices combining fish powder with black pepper and chili pepper. The Toppings: Roast pork, bamboo shoots, and green onions.
Only one or two of these from Javier left. Let’s check this one out!
Detail of the side panels (click to enlarge). Contains pork and fish. To prepare, add dry sachet contents to bowl and fill to line with boiling water. Let steep covered for 5 minutes. Add in liquid sachet. Stir and enjoy!
Finished (click to enlarge). Added spring onion and hard boiled egg. The noodles came out pretty well – kind of soft for the thickness of them, but they worked. The broth is definitely a murky swamp of blackness with a definitive black pepper taste and a kind of soy thing going on. The included vegetables were alright – the menma was not mushy but was slightly tough. The slice of pork seemed more like pepperoni than chashu. 3.75 out of 5.0 stars. JAN bar code 4902881418348.
Here’s the last of the varieties that Prima Taste sent a while back – thanks! You might be wondering – why would they send a product they don’t make? Well, I asked for anyone who could help to send me noodles – I was down to three or four varieties in my hamper – a bad situation! Well, lots of people sent noodles – even Prima Taste! So let’s check out this one from Hong Kong with a Singaporean taste!
Detail of the side panels (click to enlarge). Contains seafood. Detail of the side panels (click to enlarge). Contains fish. To prepare, add cold water to fill line and microwave at 800W for 3 minutes (use this tool to convert wattage for your microwave – not an exact science though. I have an 1100W microwave with a ‘power level’ button – changed it from 10 to 8 and it works great). Stir and enjoy!
Finished (click to enlarge). Added Salad Cosmo mung bean sprouts, coriander, crab claw fishcake and nanami togarashi. The noodles are alright – the standard Cup Noodles noodle – thin, flat and a light chew. The broth has a peppery and crabby taste to it. It’s also got a little extra thickness to it than many. Bits of crab stick abound as well as scrambled egg. 3.75 out of 5.0 stars. EAN bar code 4897878100170.
I thought that after making The Ramen Rater’s top Ten Instant Noodles Of All Time 2016 Edition and winning The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Taiwanese Instant Noodles Of all Time 2016 Edition, it would be nice to revisit this tasty noodle! What do you think? Let’s dig in!
Here’s the back of the 4 pack package (click to enlarge). Looks to be meat free but check for yourself. To prepare, add one of the noodle blocks to 800ml boiling water and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain. Add in contents of sachets. Stir and enjoy!
Here’s one of the individual packages (there are 4 in the big bag).
Finished (click to enlarge). Added yakibuta pork belly and scallions. These noodles are simply amazing! They’re wide and have a scalloped edge to them. Excellent chew but not al dente – just right. The flavor is equally impressive: a nice and tasty salty soy and oil with a snappy Sichuan pepper hit to it which has a nice heat level. The heat works with the flavor, rather than against it though, making everything balance and sing together beautifully. Love this stuff! 5.0 out of 5.0 stars. EAN bar code 4713008550021.
Can’t remember where I got this one, but it’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed anything by Koyo so I thought I’d check it out. So lower sodium, organic noodles, Vegan… But how will it taste? It’s tough to cover all these bases and make something that’s going to have a lot of flavor. Let’s find out!
Here’s the back of the package (click to enlarge). Certified Vegan friendly. To prepare, add noodle block to 1 1/3 cups boiling water and cook for 4 minutes. Add in contents of sachet. Stir and enjoy!
A small noodle block.
The soup base sachet.
Has an odd scent; very curious.
Finished (click to enlarge). Added spring onion, Salad Cosmo mung bean sprouts and kizami shoga. The noodles are thick – more like ramyun. They have an alright chew; although they seem almost doughy- and not Hakata style ramen noodle doughy. The broth does taste of garlic and pepper, but it’s so very bland. It really is like you could boil some pepper and a clove of garlic and achieve the same results. Not at all to my liking. 0.0 out of 5.0 stars. UPC bar code 813551002306.
I think every time I do a review of Vegan noodles I end up with this video. This lady seems kind of strange, with her affinity for posing with vegetables as she does, but the dish she makes actually does sound pretty good.
In the past year, I’ve tried quite a few varieties with Sichuan Pepper in them and really gotten a feel for this kind of flavor. In a way, Sichuan Pepper has almost a minty taste to it; it’s really quite different and unique. Let’s check it out!
Here’s the back of the package (click image to enlarge). Looks to be meat free but check for yourself. To prepare, add noodle block to 800ml boiling water and cook 5-6 minutes (I’ll be cooking exactly 5 1/2 minutes). Drain noodles. Add contents of sachets. Stir and enjoy!
The large bag contains 4 of these smaller packages.
The noodle block.
A sachet of liquid.
Has a soy scent.
A bright orange sachet.
Has the Sichuan Pepper – and a minty, almost pine scent to it.
Finished. Added Chinese sausage, fried garlic and scallions. The noodles are wide and have a kind of wobble to the edge which has a pleasing look. They have a nice chew and premium mouthfeel – not too soft, not too rigid. The sauce coats the noodles completely – not too much, not too little. The balance of the Sichuan pepper to other flavors is masterful; it balances perfectly. 5.0 out of 5.0 stars. EAN bar code 4710953481950.